From 2006 to 2010, the Korengal Valley in northeastern Afghanistan was considered the deadliest combat zone by American troops stationed there. The outpost there was consistently undermanned and insurgents, particularly the Taliban, were free to attack at will. 42 American soldiers and many more Afghans were killed in the "Valley of Death" before it was finally abandoned, written off as more trouble than it was worth.
One of the many units to rotate in and out of the Korengal was the 503rd Infantry Regiment. Sebastian Junger, a journalist, accompanied one of their platoons during their 15-month tour of duty and wrote a book based on his experiences entitled War. Restrepo is a film adaptation of the book that takes its name from the platoon's medic, Private First Class Juan Restrepo, who is killed in action soon after the 503rd arrived. His comrades eventually name an advance outpost, Observation Post Restrepo, after him.
The film takes a fly-on-the-wall perspective and follows the 503rd as they meet with the village elders, battle the Taliban, and participate in some dangerous and disastrous operations. Interspersed are interviews with the soldiers themselves as they look back on what they did right, what they did wrong, and how it affected them after they came back.
This film provides examples of:
- Combat Medic: Restrepo, if he were still here.
- Death from Above: At one point, 2nd Platoon calls in an air strike from a passing A-10.
- The Ghost: The insurgents. They are never actually found until the ill-fated Operation Rock Avalanche. The only indication of their presence is usually a muzzle flash and the sound of AK fire, much to the frustration of 2nd Platoon.
- Hollywood Tactics: In a documentary. First of all someone decided to create a camp in the middle of the valley. Then it took half a year for someone to finally decide it's time to create an observation post on the site from where most of the attacks came.
- Posthumous Character: The eponymous Juan Restrepo.
- Scenery Porn: Justified because OP Restrepo is supposed to be an observation post, but also commented on In-Universe; many of the soldiers are struck by how beautiful Afghanistan is.